The CGTI Blog is our spot for updating our communities on our latest news as well as the latest news on prevention, mental health, and other relevant topics. The CGTI Blog features guest spots from our Action Teams, Volunteer Staff and our Youth Advisory Committee!

From Participant to Staff

May 22, 2023

Like most of the people I have had the pleasure of meeting at CGTI, I started my journey as a participant. The first year I was welcomed to camp, I was confused by the overwhelming kind Volunteer Staff, I was nervous about making new friends and I could not wait for the week to be over. However, these feelings of doubt only lasted for that first day. By the end of my first week the contagious energy and joy of those around me made me wish to never leave. 

That’s why when I reached the age of deciding whether I should become Staff or not, I decided that it was time for me to transition from a participant to Staff.

This can be difficult especially when you have peers that are younger than you. For me, I had to learn how to balance leadership with friendship. In order to have the most productive camp, it is important to have authority with kindness. What I mean by this is that even though you may be the same age as others who aren’t on Staff, there are times when you have to make sure that everyone stays on track. Even with the responsibilities, being a leader brings so much joy. Being able to watch others find their voice and become more sure in themselves is incredible. 

If you are on the fence about continuing to be a part of CGTI by joining Staff next year here are a few benefits.

•Life long friendships 

•Helping others

•Gaining a sense of purpose

•Speaking & Communication skills

•Learning to delegate

Being a part of Volunteer Staff is incredible opportunity and journey. Ask a Staff member this Summer about what part of the experience is important to them and consider applying in 2024!


Tagged As: CGTI Staff YAC
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Leaving for College

April 10, 2023

I will be finished with my last year of high school in 9 weeks. I will graduate in 72 days. I will be starting college in 164 days. Those facts all make me very excited and nervous all at the same time. Leaving for college can be scary but I also know that it’s going to be a fun new experience for me. I also draw comfort from the fact that I will only be an hour away from home. Another thing that helps me feel more prepared for meeting so many new people is my experiences with CGTI and Operation Snowball. In college, I will be studying Early Childhood Education to earn my bachelor’s degree. I am hoping that my experiences with CGTI will help me in my area of study. Leadership qualities that I have been able to improve at CGTI will be a tremendous asset to my studies and future career. 

Attending CGTI Events has let me make a variety of new friends and I hope that the skills I have learned at making new friends will transfer over to college as well. Introducing yourself to someone new can seem really scary but a majority of the time they are trying to work up the courage to introduce themselves to someone new as well. Everyone wants to make connections in a new place to feel at home, so being too scared only delays the feeling of comfort. The advice that I am giving myself as I finish my senior year and get ready to start college is to always remember that you may regret chances you don’t take. So my point is to go big and hope for the very best while stepping out of your comfort zone.


Tagged As: CGTI YAC
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Start Embracing "Break Culture" This Spring!

March 27, 2023

Tagged As: CGTI YAC Mental Health
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CGTI 2022 Updates

June 22, 2022

There are just 25 days until we're "Back and Better Than Ever" at CGTI fully for the first time in three years! As we get closer to July, there are a few updates we wanted to share. 


Acceptance Packets

Acceptance packets will be emailed to all registered participants today! These packets include information about registration, the CGTI agenda, packing lists, and more. Included with the packets, there is a form to fill out roommate selection, workshop selection and our CGTI survey! This survey helps ensure that we are able to host the best events possible and that CGTI is making a positive impact on those who attend. Anyone who does not fill out a form will be randomly assigned both workshops and a roommate - if your school or team sent a rooming list, those will be used for roommate selection.

If you indicated on your form that you will be taking medication at CGTI or that you are currently seeing a doctor for any medical reasons, then you will also receive a medical form to ensure that our contracted nurse has all the information she needs. 

Please make sure to read the acceptance packet thoroughly so that you are prepared for arrival and dismissal times, dorm needs and the event overall. 

If you have any questions about the packet or any of the forms included, you can email our VP of Program, Ashley Webb, as 


Theme Days

A fun part of the packing process is preparing for our Theme Days! Each day at CGTI, we incorporate a Theme Day to add a little extra fun. You can find the Theme Days below - have fun and get creative! 

Sunday - School/Action Team/Operation Snowball shirt from your community 

Monday - Theme Shirt (provided at registration)

Tuesday - Hats and Tattoos-day (some tattoos will be provided but feel free to bring your own! You can also purchase a hat at the CGTI store.) 

Wednesday - Heroes and Villains Day

Wednesday Night Celebration - A Night Full of Stars (gold and silver theme)

Thursday - Neon Day (check out our CGTI store for neon options!) 


CGTI Store

Speaking of Theme Days, we'll have some options that match those themes at the CGTI Store! We're excited to announce what merch will be available at our store soon, but you can expect some great clothing items as well as functional items like water bottles.

The store takes cash and credit/debit. We'll also be selling snacks during free time and at night during dorm floor free time. We hope you're ready to rock the CGTI swag! 



General Sessions 

If you follow us on social media, (@cg_ti on Instagram, @CGTI12 on Twitter and Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute on Facebook), you may have seen that we've announced all our General Sessions! We are so thrilled to have such an incredible group of keynote speakers joining us for the week to share their knowledge, passion and leadership with us. Make sure to give them a follow on their own socials, check out the inspiration behind their incredible talents and share some CGTI warm fuzzies with them before their arrival!

Sunday Yvonne Williams 

Monday Mykee Fowlin

Tuesday - De'Marco Fomby

Wednesday - Javier Sanchez 


We are counting down the days until we are together once again working to make an impact across our state. We hope you're as excited as we are. We will see you all so SOON!

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Summer Prevention Programming

June 6, 2022

Summer is here! The school semester might be ending or over for you, but that doesn't mean prevention has to stop for the season. Whether you're spending the summer relaxing and enjoying your free time or you're working with organizations like Youth Advisory Boards/Councils and other local prevention groups, summer can offer a lot of opportunities for prevention progress. 

Of course, the first summer prevention programming event you can add to your calendar is the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute! CGTI offers a week full of skill building, education development and networking for student leaders. Throughout the week of our July conference, students can engage in workshops and keynotes about prevention, mental health, future readiness, goal setting and more. In both large and small groups, there is time to process information, share ideas, plan for the upcoming semester and exchange thoughts on community prevention efforts. This is a great way for Action Teams to connect before the school year begins again in August, to set intentions and brainstorm big, new ideas. CGTI is also great for individuals, Youth Advisory Councils/Boards and local organizations with similar missions. If you are looking for prevention programming to include this season or a way to bridge between semesters, CGTI offers the perfect mid-summer event to keep us connected to purpose and passion. Registration is open at and we do have scholarships available! 

If your Action Team has paused or slowed programming for the summer, now is a great time to brainstorm for the upcoming school year by getting out and about in your community and observing! The minute details that might just seem like a part of the fabric of everyday life in your town - like gambling advertisements at gas stations or alcohol promotions for summer celebrations - are things you can keep in mind to address when you return with your peers. By understanding what is happening in your community year-round, you can make plans that foster longevity and remain effective and efficient outside your programming schedule. This is also a great time to see what resources your community offers - where can youth go, especially during the summer when teachers, school counselors, etc., might not be available to them to learn about mental health, substance use prevention, and giving back? If you want to make sure that you're taking part in these iniatives during all seasons, this is a great time to research what Youth Advisory Boards/Councils or coalitions might be doing work in your town! Are there other prevention programs or youth groups that have similar missions and goals that you work on during the fall, winter and spring at school? 

If you are already a part of some of these programs, what specifically during the summer needs attention? What information or programming might youth miss out on in the summer when there isn't as much structure, schedule or school? How can you share this information with them? As well, what issues do we see that present specifically during the summer - think about holidays that focus on alcohol consumption, easy access to substances when youth are home when adults may not be for longer periods of time, etc. 

If you're looking for more individual prevention programming during the summer, this might be a great time to look at webinars, previously recorded sessions on Youtube or for content from speakers you've previously seen at prevention events like CGTI to learn more about the field in your down time! Websites like SAMHSA, NAMI, NIDA and more, have information on general substance use prevention and education too! 

Overall, prevention programming doesn't have to pause for the Summer because school does - each season provides us with different ways to engage, educate and grow as individuals and with our communities at large. 


Tagged As: CGTI Prevention
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Live From Charleston, It's Tuesday Night Live!

June 1, 2022

CGTI 2022 is just around the corner and that means it's time to start preparing for some of our favorite Teen Institute traditions! 

One of CGTI's most beloved activities is Tuesday Night Live, our annual talent show. The talent show takes place Tuesday evening and is led by our Activity Coordinators. Any participant is welcome to participate - try outs are held by our ACs during Monday and Tuesday free time - and to share there talents with us! Our PALS participants always peform a group number together of their making. 

Talents in the past have ranged from singing and dancing to poetry reads and skits to funny stories and jokes and beyond. The stage is open to any and all talents, and participants are welcome to bring items from home - like intruments - for the event! Try outs are required to ensure that the ACs are prepared for any specific AV needs (music, microphone, stand, etc), that there's enough time for all performers and that performances are age appropriate. We'll have microphones, music-playing capabilities, and a piano available. The rest is up to you! 

Performing during Tuesday Night Live is a great opportunity to take healthy risks, get out of your comfort zone and create memories with friends new and old. This is a time for you to be creative, have fun and enjoy one of the most special parts of the CGTI experience - its open and positive atmosphere. It's also a great opportunity as an audience member to cheer on your fellow CGTI family members who are taking those risks to get on stage. 

Tuesday Night Live has remained a favorite part of the Teen Institute for decades now because of the supportive, energetic and familial atmosphere it provides. This is your time to shine and your time to appreciate the shine that others have too!  We hope you'll consider taking part, but if you're more comfortable and excited to take it all in from your seat, we look forward to clapping and singing with you too. 

If you have any questions about Tuesday Night Live, a talent you want to perform or CGTI, don't forget that you can reach out to us on social media or at or! 


Posted In: Positivity
Tagged As: CGTI
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The Road to Staff

April 18, 2022

Ignite Your Passion

The Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute is a place where you can find a community while helping your community. You can start attending the summer camp in middle school. As a middle school participant you get to have fun while learning about substance use prevention and how to become a better leader in your community. That first year is a year like no other. Everything is new. It's like stepping to a whole new world with so many possibilities. It can feel weird at first, everyone cheering and dancing while you are just a shy middle schooler, trust me I know. That foreign experience is beneficial, especially at that age. Feeling safe to be your authentic self in an environment makes it easier to make friends and learn things. That first year for me I started to figure out who I was by discovering what I wanted to do. At the age of 12, your world is a lot smaller and time passes differently. In middle school making an action plan of what to do at school feels like a set plan for the future. At least that's how it felt for me. I saw the ability to do something that gave me a purpose.

Color Your Future

Part of working on an action plan is making sure you are maintaining it year round. How you can make sure you are doing that is by going to Mid-Year. Mid-Year is a great place to reconnect with all your new friends from over the summer. It's also a great place to keep developing your leadership skills and action plan. You can see a future and you can set goals, but if you don’t put in the work nothing is going to change. As a middle school participant, you are the youngest group with so much to learn still. You are going to make mistakes; it's all a part of the journey of learning. Even though you are a part of the youngest group at camp you are a part of the group of leaders from your community. You are a leader and learning makes a huge difference. You have the courage to go to an unknown place and learn about preventing substance use and creating an all inclusive environment.

Defying Gravity 

Middle school comes to an end, and once you graduate from eighth grade you can become a high school participant. As a high school participant, you get to make more friends. You still get to enjoy workshops and general sessions. I would say the biggest difference is Discussion Groups. Discussion Groups in middle school are with people closer to your age and you have in common that you are all still new to TI. As a high school participant you are thrown into a group with people who have more experience being a leader in their communities. The great part about that is you get to learn from your peers not just about TI and being a leader, but also about what to expect in high school. The summer after eighth grade for me was a chance to prepare myself for starting my freshman year.


If I had to pick one year as a participant that I enjoyed the most, it would have to be my fourth year at CGTI. After going through middle school and my first year of high school, I felt at home when going back. When you get to know the people and get into the groove of how the days go both at Mid-Years and over the summer, you have more time to have fun. After three years of learning and growing out of the awkwardness, you get to enjoy the summer even more than before. What I learned is that you don’t feel weird participating in workshops and taking healthy risks once you become more and more conformable. Not only that but you can take even more leadership roles in your community. Age does equal more responsibilities. After being a high school participant, you can become a PALS member. A PALS member is a Participant with Advanced Leadership Skills. It is like training for being on Youth Staff. It's a lot more learning and practicing having a larger role in the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute. You still do action planning and watch the general sessions. Again the biggest difference is Discussion Groups. In PALS, you have PALS meetings where you learn things. You still process things from the workshops throughout the day, but the activities are different. Taking on being a PALS member is like saying you're ready to take a larger step in your leadership journey -  both in your community and in CGTI. PALS only happens in the summer,  meaning you could do PALS and still be a high school participant in the winter.


Just like PALS, Youth Staff only happens in the summer. For PALS you can do that the summer after your junior year. Youth Staff you do once you have done PALS and complete high school. Obviously in the past there have been exceptions and the circumstances of the world affected how TI did things in 2020 and 2021. Now we are back and better than ever. Youth Staff was such a special experience for me I will never forget. It was a long journey to get to be on Youth Staff and one worth taking. My world is a lot bigger than what it was in middle school. I had the typical moments of doubt about whether or not staff was for me. The great thing about Youth Staff is you get to learn, practice and have larger roles. You are there for staff trainings. You get to co-facilitate Discussion Groups and action planning. You have more responsibilities and with that comes the freedom of getting to learn how you fit in with the staff group. You are no longer working with your school peers, you are working with people who taught you. You get to spend time learning more from them, but also getting to know them. You never stop making friends at CGTI and you never stop growing into a better leader.

Home Is Where CGTI Is 

Home is where the heart is, home is where your chosen family is. A home is a safe place where you are allowed to grow. Where you can leave and come back, even if it's been years, and you are welcomed in with open arms. Home is where unconditional love and acceptance are. Home is an environment where you can learn how to be a better member of your community. Home is the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute. That is the biggest thing I learned throughout the years because after the time spent growing through CGTI, it really becomes your home. It becomes your family where you get to pass on traditions and wisdom to new members. Where you still get to learn from those who have been around longer than you. That's what being on staff truly is: you are a part of a family and you have an important role to play. Being on Volunteer Staff is just one step towards even more. I am just at the point of being on Volunteer Staff and one day I may be on the Leadership Team. Growth in CGTI truly never stops. The love for the people and missions of IABH, Snowball, Focus, and CGTI keeps growing. You can start at any point and be welcomed in with open arms. You could have no experience or a lot of experience in Snowball and CGTI regardless you are welcomed in with open arms. The journey to staff doesn’t just take one path. I told my journey based on what I experienced. Every single member of staff experienced a different journey and so will you. 





Tagged As: CGTI Mid-Year Staff
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Call for Presenters

March 8, 2019

In July 2019, CGTI is conducting its 45th annual Teen Institute, a five-day leadership conference sponsored by IABH. It is an award-winning program that offers opportunities for youth around the state to learn about leadership, healthy choices, and working with others to create better communities.

This year the theme for CGTI 2019 will be HOPE (Healthy Outcomes through Prevention Education).

We are looking for dynamic presenters to empower our participants and communities, as they seek opportunities to be catalyst for change. We have several workshops available for middle school and high school participants, as well as workshops for adult mentors. We would love for you to present at CGTI this summer at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

Our budget for presenters is limited, but we will consider your request for an honorarium and/or reimbursement for travel and expenses. Presenting at CGTI is a great way to get your message (and your name) out to hundreds of youth and adults from across the state of Illinois.

Presentation topics should be related to:

  • Substance Use Prevention(ATOD opioid crisis, juuling/vaping, marijuana, & alcohol)
  • Leadership
  • Mental Health Awareness (self confidence, body image, positive self-talk, susicide prevention, stress management)
  • Communication (resume building, interviewing)
  • Bullying Prevention
  • Teambuilding and Facilitation skills

Teens Reaching and Achieving Excellence (TRAX) workshops will be held Monday, July 22 and Wednesday, July 24 for 60 minutes. Round Robins will be held Tuesday, July 23 for 60 minutes. General Sessions will be held Sunday through Wednesday for 45 minutes.

A firm deadline for submitting proposals is Friday, April 15, 2019 at 4:00PM. Should you have any questions regarding CGTI 2019, please contact Ashley Webb at

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That's a wrap!

August 9, 2017

Another year in the books for the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute and it was one of the best ones yet!

Last month, we held our 43rd annual conference at Eastern Illinois University, a campus that we have happily called home base for five years. This year our theme was "Color Y(our) Future," with each of our discussion groups being named after a color. We thought color was the perfect representation for our camp: a bunch of individuals coming together to make something beautiful and bright!

As with each year, before we could begin welcoming our participants, our staff arrived Friday afternoon for a weekend of training. Between presentations and planning, scavenger hunts and trivia, we we're able to spend a little time bonding and prepping for the week ahead.

The participants arrived to our chorus of honking cars and cheering staff on Sunday afternoon and after unpacking and doing energizers, attended our opening ceremony. We also welcomed alumni back this year for our second Alumni Luncheon event.

This year's opening ceremony was extra special. We were proud to announce that our volunteer staff led a fundraising campaign that raised $26,477! 100% (75) of our volunteer staff exceeded or met their $200 goal, and we could not be more grateful to them and the many wonderful donors that helped us get to this point! With this money, we'll get a 2:1 match from the Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundations! Our fundraising efforts will continue with our 2:1 match until December 15.

The week was definitely busy, but in the best way. We had four wonderful general session speakers to start off our mornings: De'Marco Fomby, who spoke about our ability to influence; Julie Kelly, who spoke about how situations do not need to define you; Fabian Ramirez, who touched on the effects of bullying; and Eddie Slowiskowski, who used the art of dance and music to discuss life and success. Their energy and enthusiasm helped us wake up and prepare for the day!

On Monday and Wednesday, we had our TRAX (Teens Reaching and Achieving Excellence) Workshops. Each day featured multiple workshops for our middle school and high school participants that ranged from starting an Operation Snowball Chapter (prevention group in your school) to depression and stress relief to fostering leadership skills to suicide and alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention, and college and career readiness. Participants are able to select workshops they would like to attend based on what skills they'd like to expand on or areas they'd like to learn more about.

On Tuesday we had our Round Robin sessions. Kevin Wanzer spoke about finding the funny in life in one of our sessions and a trivia gameshow about our program as well as pop culture was led in the other. What a great energy boost!

Each day our participants were able to meet with their discussion groups and Community Action Teams (CAT). In discussion groups, they were able to process the day's events, work on team building activities and bond with others from outside of their communities. Our CATs met to identify and focus on local issues and create action plans for their own specific communities.

We also had some special events each day! On Monday night, our discussion groups participated in a scavenger hunt based on our color theme. They were asked to find locations, discuss fun questions with their groups and participate in team building activities. On Tuesday, we had our Tuesday Night Live talent show led by our Activity Coordinators. All of our participants did a wonderful job taking the stage and sharing their talents with us! On Wednesday, we had our celebration. DJ Ritchie C led a dance in the main ballroom with board games set up in the other. Participants were also able to play games, bowl and swim, visit the CGTI store and relax during free time hours each day.

Each year we're are so amazed by what our staff and participants are able to accomplish at camp both in their groups and out. The plans created, the lessons learned, the bonds made and the fun had inspire us to make sure that our Mid-Year and our next camp are even BETTER and to continue finding ways to positively affect the communities and people around us! We can't thank everyone who participated and led this year for what wonderful memories they've left us with, what opportunities they've created and what changes they have already begun to make!

We can't wait to see all the positive change our participants make in their school and/or community over the next school year. We had such a great 2017 and we're looking forward to seeing everyone at our Mid-Year event January 13-14 to hear what's been accomplished since then!

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